Press Release | June 21, 2018
Peoples’ Convention on Infrastructure Financing Challenges AIIB’s Reckless Lending: People Vow to Resist Attempt to Usurp Natural Resources & Livelihood in the Name of Development
Mumbai: Political and social activists, academics and financial analysts included, a large number of people gathered at the inaugural of Peoples’ Convention on Infrastructure Financing in Mumbai, ahead of the Annual Meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), decried investments of AIIB and other international financial institutions (IFIs), causing displacement, dispossession loss of livelihood and propelling inequality and social unrest.
Speaking at the occasion eminent economist Professor Arun Kumar, questioned the development model pushed ahead by IFIs in the pretext of ‘development for all’ as their only aim is profit-oriented growth at any cost. He raised the pertinent question of ‘development for whom’.
“AIIB has created a superstructure, an ecosystem which acts as a complex web of shining terminologies and projects to attract investments, which actually is a smoke screen to hide the fact that there’s no human development happening” senior activist Medha Patkar said in her speech.
Raising concerns at the crackdown of activists by the government, she lamented, “Show us one state where the people opposing the projects have not been jailed to raise their concerns about the environment, and right to life and livelihood. Recently, people were fired upon in Thutthokodi, Tamil Nadu, when they demanded a pollution free environment to live”.
Financial analyst and journalist Sucheta Dalal said that the Indian banking system is at the verge of crisis, reeling under the mounting bad loans, caused by unfettered corporate loans. Referring to government’s announcement in the Parliament that Rs. 2.4 lakh crore bad loans are written off, she said that “ if farm loan waiver was proposed the world would have gone on a spin, while the loans of big corporations are written off and there isn’t a whimper.”
The inaugural ceremony of the three-day Convention started with the music of resistance by cultural groups. Other speakers included Sreedhar, Environics Trust; Shaktiman Gosh, General Secretary, National Hawkers Federation; Leo Colaco National Fishworkers Forum / World Forum of Fisher-people; Roma, National Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI).
Senior activist Ulka Mahajan asked, “Is land a commodity to sell to forcefully silence farmers by giving them some compensation to build infrastructure project?” She added “the land feeds generations of people by providing food,” while reminding that it will be difficult to bring back the fertility of the land. “If raising issues of the marginalised is sedition, then we will continue to do it,” she emphasised.
The Peoples’ Convention on Infrastructure Financing is a 3-day confluence of people’s movements, civil society organisations and concerned citizens to deliberate about international financing and strategise a collective voice to hold these financers accountable for their impacts the lending is causing.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the two-year-old multilateral bank, is investing in all major sectors, including energy, without robust policies on environmental-social safeguards, transparent public disclosure and an accountability/complaint handling mechanism. Out of the total 24 projects, it has financed, USD 4.4 billion has already been approved. India is the biggest recipient from AIIB with more than 1.2 billion USD supporting about six projects including Transmission lines, Capital City Development at Amravati, rural roads etc. with another 1 billion USD in proposed projects.
WGonIFIs, a network of movements, organisations and individuals to critically look at and evaluate the policies, programmes and investments of various International Finance Institutions (IFIs), and joining the celebration of the people and communities across the world in resisting them. A list of the network is available here.
Last year, when the Asian Development Bank completed 50 years, the WGonIFIs observed it by holding actions of protests in over 140 locations spread in over 21 states in India against the investment policies of ADB and other International Financial Institutions.
For further details, please contact:
Maju Varghese | 8826249887
Mecanzy Dabre | 9665006429
Himshi Singh | 9867348307
Mukta Srivastava | +91 99695 30060
Shweta Tambe | +91 98693 40816
Anil Tharayath | +91 96500 15257